Part 9 out of 11
"Hush--she was frightened by your crying. She is sleepy now, but
when she has had her nap, and wakes good-humored, I will fill her
bottle, and bring her down to you. Try not to torment yourself by
dwelling upon a distressing past, which you cannot undo; but by
prayer anchor your soul in God's pardoning mercy. When all the world
hoots and stones us, God is our 'sure refuge'."
"That promise is to pure hearts and innocent hands; not to such as I
am, steeped to the lips in crime--black, black--"
"No. One said: 'The whole need not a physician; but they that are
sick.' Your soul is sick unto death; claim the pledged cure. Yonder
I have copied the hymn for to-morrow's lesson. While you sit here,
commit it to memory; and the Shepherd will hear your cry."
Glancing back from the chapel door, she saw that the miserable woman
had bowed her face in her hands, and with elbows supported on her
knees, was swaying back and forth in a storm of passionate sobs.
"O! my beautiful baby, my angel Max, pray for mother now. Max--Max--
there is no 'Sweet By and By'--for mother--"
Hurrying from the wail of anguish that no human agency could
lighten, Beryl carried the orphan across the yard, and up the stairs
leading to the corridor, whence she was allowed egress at will. She
noticed casually, signs of suppressed excitement among some of the
convicts, who were lounging in groups, enjoying the half holiday,
and three or four men stood around the under-warden who was
gesticulating vivaciously; but at her approach he lowered his voice,
and she lived so far aloof from the jars and gossip of the lower
human strata, that the suspicious indications failed to arouse any
The southwest angle of the building was exposed fully to the force
of the afternoon sun, and the narrow cell was so hot that Beryl
opened the door leading into the corridor, in order to create a
draught through the opposite window.
The tired child was fretfully drowsy, but with the innate perversity
of toddling babyhood, resented and resisted every effort to soothe
her to sleep. Refusing to lie across the nurse's lap, the small
tyrant clambered up, wrapped her arms about her neck, and finally
Beryl rose and walked up and down, humming softly Chopin's dreamy
"Berceuse"; while the baby added a crooning accompaniment that grew
fainter and intermittent until the blue eyes closed, one arm fell,
and the thumb was plunged between the soft full lips.
Warily the nurse laid her down in a cradle, which consisted of an
oval basket mounted on roughly fashioned wooden rockers, and drawing
it close to the table, Beryl straightened the white cross-barred
muslin slip that was too short to cover the rosy dimpled feet; and
smoothed the flossy tendrils of yellow hair crumpled around the
The Sister of Charity, who, in the darkest hours of the pestilence
had shrouded the poor young mother, did not forget the human waif
astray in the world; but having secured a home for it in an
"asylum," to which she promised it should be removed so soon as all
danger of carrying contagion was over, had appointed the ensuing
Monday on which to bear it away from the gloomy precincts, where
sinless life had dawned in disgrace and degradation. This pretty
toy, dowered with an immortal soul, stained by an inherited criminal
strain, had appealed to the feminine tenderness in Beryl's nature,
and she stood a moment, lost in admiration of the rounded curves and
"Poor little blossom. Nobody's baby! A lily bud adrift on a dead sea
of sin. Dovie--Eve Werneth's child--but you will always be to me
Dulce, my pretty clinging Dulce, my velvet-eyed cherub model."
Turning away, she bathed her face and hands, and leaned for a while
against the southern window; listening to the exultant song of a red
bird hovering near his brooding brown mate, to the soothing murmur
of the distant falls, borne in on the wings of the thievish June
breeze that had rifled some far-off garden of the aroma of
honeysuckle. The current of air had swung the door back, leaving
only a hand's breadth of open space, and while she sang to the baby,
her own voice had drowned the sound of footsteps in the corridor.
On the whitewashed wall of the cell, a sheet of drawing paper had
been tacked, and taking her crayons, Beryl returned to the cradle,
changed the position of the child's left hand, and approaching the
almost completed sketch on the wall, retouched the outline of the
sleeping figure. Now and then she paused in her work, to look down
at the golden lashes sweeping the slumber-flushed cheeks, and
pondering the mystery of the waif's future, she chanted in a rich
contralto voice, the solemn "Reproaches" of Gounod's "Redemption."
"Oh, my vineyard, come tell me why thy grapes are bitter? What have
I done, my People? Wherein hast thou been wronged?"
For weeks the elaboration of this sketch had employed every moment
which was not demanded for the execution of her allotted daily task
in the convict workroom; and knowing that on Monday she would be
bereft of her pretty model, she had redoubled her exertions to
Beside a bier knelt a winged figure, in act of stealing the rigid
form, and to the awful yet strangely beautiful face of the messenger
of gloom, she had given the streaming hair, the sunken, cavernous
but wonderfully radiant eyes of Moritz Retzsch's weird image of
Death. A white butterfly fluttered upward, and in mid-air--neither
descending nor drifting, but waiting--poised on outspread pinions,
hovered the Angel of the Resurrection holding out his hands. Behind
and beneath the Destroyer, rolled dense shadows, and all the light
in this picture rayed out from the plumes above, and fell like a
glory on the baby's face.
Cut off from all congenial companionship, thrown upon her own mental
resources, the prisoner had learned to live in an ideal world; and
her artistic tastes proved an indestructible heritage of comfort,
while memory ministered lavishly with images from the crowded realm
of aesthetics. Victorious over the stony limitations of dungeon
walls and dungeon discipline, fetterless imagination soared into the
kingdom of beauty, and fed her lonely soul, as Syrian ravens fed
Fourteen months had passed since Mr. Dunbar walked away from this
cell, after the interview relative to Gen'l Darrington's will; and
though his longing to see the prisoner had driven him twice to the
entrance of the chapel, whence he heard the marvellously sweet
voice, and gazed at the figure before the organ, no word was
To-day, with his hand on the bolt of the door, and his heart in his
eyes, he leaned against the facing, and through the opening studied
the occupant of the cell that held the one treasure which fate had
The ravages of disease, the blemish of acute physical suffering had
vanished; the clear pallor of her complexion, the full white throat,
the rounded contour of the graceful form, bespoke complete
restoration of all the vital forces; and never had she appeared so
Oppressed by the heat, she had pushed back the hair from her
temples, and though hopeless sadness reigned over the profound
repose of her features, the expression of her eyes told that the
dream of the artist had borne her beyond surrounding ills.
Where the button of her blue homespun dress fastened the collar, she
wore a sprig of heliotrope and a cluster of mignonette, from the
shallow box in the window-ledge where they grew together.
How long he stood there, surrendering himself to the happiness of
watching the woman whom, against his will, he loved with such
unreasoning and passionate fervor, Mr. Dunbar never knew; but a
sudden recollection of the face printed on the glass, the face,
beautiful as fabled Hylas--of the man for whose sake she was willing
to die--stung him like an adder's bite; and setting his teeth hard,
he rapped upon the door held ajar; then threw it open.
At sight of him, her arm, lifted to the sketch, fell; the crayon
slipped from her nerveless fingers, and a glow rich as the heart of
some red June rose stained her cheeks.
As he stepped toward her, she leaned against the wall, and swiftly
drew the baby's cradle between them. He understood, and for a moment
"You barricade yourself as though I were some loathsome monster! Are
you afraid of me?"
"What is there left to fear? Have you spared any exertion to
accomplish that which you believe would overwhelm me with sorrow?"
"You cannot forgive my rejection of the overtures for a compromise
wrung from you by extremity of dread, when I started to Dakota?"
"That rejection freed me from a self-imposed, galling promise; and
hence I forgive all, because of the failure of your journey."
"Suppose I have not failed?"
She caught her breath, and the color in her cheeks flickered.
"Had you succeeded, I should not have been allowed so long the
comparative mercy of suspense."
"Am I so wantonly cruel, think you, that I gloat over your
sufferings as a Modoc at sight of the string of scalps dangling at
his pony's neck?"
"When the spirit of revenge is unleashed, Tiberius becomes a law
He leaned forward, and his voice was freighted with tenderness that
he made no attempt to disguise.
"Once after that long swoon in the court-room, when I held your
hand, you looked at me without shrinking, and called me Tiberius.
Again, when for hours I sat beside your cot, watching the crisis of
your first terrible illness, you opened your eyes and held out your
hand, saying: 'Have you come for me, Tiberius?' Why have you told me
you were at the mercy of Tiberius?"
Hitherto she had avoided looking at him, and kept her gaze upon the
sleeping child, but warned by the tone that made her heart throb,
she bravely lifted her eyes.
"When next you write to your betrothed, ask her to go to the Museo
Chiaramonti while in Rome, and standing before the crowned Tiberius,
she will fancy her future husband welcomes her. Your wife will need
no better portrait of you than a copy of that head."
Into his eyes leaped the peculiar glow that can be likened unto
nothing but the clear violet flame dancing over a bed of burning
anthracite coal, and into his voice an exultant ring:
"Meantime, like my inexorable prototype, 'I hold a wolf by the
ears'. Shall I tell you my mission here?"
"As it appears I am indeed always at the mercy of Tiberius, your
courtesy savors of sarcasm."
"Oh, my stately white rose! My Rosa Alba, I will see to it, that no
polluting hand lays a grasp on you. My errand should entitle me to a
more cordial reception, for I bring you good news. Will you lay your
hand in mine just once, while I tell you?"
He extended his open palm, but she shook her head and smiled sadly.
"In this world no good news can ever come to me."
"Do you know that recently earnest efforts have been made to induce
the Governor to pardon you? That I have just returned from a visit
"I was not aware of it; but I am grateful for your effort in my
"I was disappointed. The pardon was not granted. Since then, fate,
who frowned so long upon you, has come to your rescue. The truth has
been discovered, proclaimed; and I came here this afternoon with an
order for your release. For you the prison doors and gates stand
open. You are as free as you were that cursed day when first you saw
me and robbed my life of peace."
For a moment she looked at him bewildered; then a great dread drove
the blood from her lips, and her voice shook.
"What truth has been discovered?"
"The truth that you are innocent has been established to the entire
satisfaction of judge and jury, prosecution and Governor, sheriff,
warden, and you are free. Not pardoned for that which all the world
knows now you never committed; but acquitted without man's help, by
the discovery of a fact which removes every shadow of suspicion from
your name. You are at liberty, owing no thanks to human mercy;
vindicated by a witness subpoenaed by the God of justice, in whom
you trusted--even to the end."
"Witness? What witness? You do not mean that you have hunted down--"
She paused, and her white face was piteous with terror, as pushing
away the cradle she came close to him.
"I have seen the face of the man who killed Gen'l Darrington."
She threw up her arms, crossing them over her head.
"O, my God! Have I suffered in vain? Shall I be denied the
recompense? After all my martyrdom, must I lose the one hope that
Despite the rage which the sight of her suffering woke within his
heart, he could not endure to witness it.
"Can you find no comfort in release? No joy in the consciousness of
your triumphant vindication?"
"None! If you have robbed me of that which is all I care for on
earth, what solace can I find in release? Vindication? What is the
opinion of the world to me? Oh! how have I ever wronged you, that
you persecute me so vindictively, that you stab the only comfort
life can ever hold for me?"
"And you love him so insanely, that to secure his safety, existence
here in this moral sty is sweet in comparison with freedom unshared
with him? Listen! That belief stirs the worst elements in my nature;
it swings the whip of the furies. For your own sake, do not thrust
your degrading madness upon my notice. I have labored to liberate
you; have subordinated all other aims to this, and now, that I have
come to set you free, you repulse and spurn me!"
She was so engrossed by one foreboding, that it was evident she had
not even heard him, as moving to the bench in front of the window
she sat down, shivering. Her black brows contracted till they met,
and the strained expression of her eyes told that she was revolving
some possibility of succor.
"Where did you see my--my--?"
"Not in Dakota mines, where I expected to find him."
"Mr. Dunbar." She pointed to the chair at her side.
He shook his head, but approached and stood before her.
"I am waiting to hear you."
"I sent you a telegram, promising information that would have
prevented that journey."
"It failed to reach me."
Unconsciously she was wringing her hands as her thoughts whirled.
"I will tell you something now, if you will promise me that no harm
He laughed scornfully.
"As if I had anything to learn concerning that cowardly villain!
Thanks for your confidence, which comes much too late."
"You do not know that--"
"Yes, I know all I want to know; more than you shall ever tell me,
and I decline to hear a confession that, in my eyes, defiles you;
that would only drive me to harsh denunciation of your foul idol.
Moreover, I will not extort by torture what you have withheld so
jealously. Do not wring your hands so desperately. You are goaded to
confession now, because you believe that I have secured your lover?
Take courage, he has not yet been arrested; he is still a wanderer
hiding from retribution."
She sprang up, trembling.
"But you said you had seen his face?"
"Yes, and I have come to take you where you can identify that face?"
"Then, he is dead." She covered her face with her hands.
"No, I wish to God he was dead! Sit down. I will not see you suffer
such agony. He is safe for the present. If you will try to think of
yourself for a moment, and pay me the compliment of listening, I
will explain. Do you recollect that during the storm on the night of
the murder the lightning was remarkably vivid and severe?"
"Yes; can I ever forget any details of that night? Go on."
"Do you recall the position of the glass door on the west veranda;
and also that the crimson drapery or curtain was drawn aside?"
"I recall it distinctly because, while Gen'l Darrington was reading
my mother's letter, I looked out through the glass at the
chrysanthemums blooming in the garden."
"That door was almost opposite the chimney, and the safe or vault in
the wall was very near the fireplace. It appears that when the
chloroform failed to stupefy Gen'l Darrington, he got up and seized
one of the andirons on the hearth, and attacked the thief who was
stealing his money. While they were struggling in front of the
vault, a burst of electricity, some peculiarly vivid flash of
lightning, sent by fate, by your guardian angel, it may have been by
God himself--photographed both men, and the interior of the room on
the wide glass panel of that door. Forms, faces, features, even the
pattern of the cloth coat, are printed plainly there, for the whole
world to study. The murderer and the victim in mortal combat over
the tin box. Accident--shall I say Providence--unexpectedly brought
this witness to light. The curtain so long looped back, was recently
lowered, and when, two days ago, the outside blinds were opened,
there lay your complete vindication. Crowds have seen it; the
newspaper issued an 'extra', and so general was the rejoicing, that
a public demonstration would have been made here at the gaol, had
not Churchill and I harangued the people and assured them it would
only annoy and embarrass you. So you are free. Free to shake the
dust of X---forever from your feet; and it must comfort your proud
soul to know that you do not owe your liberty to the mercy of a
community which wronged you. I forbade Singleton to tell you, to
allow any premature hint to reach you; for I claimed the privilege
of bringing the glad tidings. Last night I spent in that room at
'Elm Bluff', guarding that door; and the vigil was cheered by the
picture hope drew, that when I came to-day you would greet me
kindly; would lay your dear hands in mine, and tell me that, at
least, gratitude would always keep a place for me warm in your noble
heart. I have my recompense in the old currency of scorn. It were
well for you if you had shown me your hatred less plainly; now I
shall indulge less hesitation in following the clue the lightning
lays in my grasp. I warn you that your release only expedites his
arrest; for you can never pass beyond my surveillance; and the day
you hasten to him, seals his fate. Long imprisoned doves, when set
free, fly straight to their distant mates; so--take care--lest the
hawk overtake both."
Looking up at him, listening almost breathlessly to the tale of a
deliverance that involved new peril for Bertie, the color came
slowly back to her blanched face, and her parted lips quivered.
"If the picture means anything, it proves that Gen'l Darrington made
the assault with the brass andiron, and in the struggle that
followed, the man you saw might have killed him in self defence."
"When he is brought to trial in X--he shall never be allowed the
benefit of your affectionate supposition. I promise you, that I will
annihilate your tenderly devised theory."
He ground his teeth in view of the transparent fact, that she was
too intently considering the bearing of the revelation upon the
safety of another, to heed the thought of her own escape from
The little cluster of flowers fastened at her throat had become
loosened, and fell unnoticed into her lap. He stooped, picked them
up, and straightened them on his palm. When his eyes returned to
Beryl, she had bowed her face in her shielding hands.
How little he dreamed that she was silently praying for strength to
deny the cry of her own beating heart, and to keep him from making
shipwreck of the honor which she supposed was still pledged to Leo!
Security for her brother, and unswerving loyalty to the absent woman
who had befriended her in the darkest hours of the accusation, were
objects difficult to accomplish simultaneously; yet at every hazard
she would struggle on. Because she had learned to love so well this
man, who was the promised husband of another, conscience made her
merciless to her own disloyalty.
Mr. Dunbar laid on the bench a small package sealed in yellow paper.
"Knowing that your detention here has necessarily forfeited all the
industrial engagements by which you maintained yourself, before you
came South, I have been requested to ask your acceptance of this
purse, which contains sufficient money to defray your expenses until
you resume your art labors. It is an offering from your twelve
"No--no. I could never touch it. Tell them for me that I am not
vindictive. I know they did the best they could for me, in view of
the evidence. Tell them I am grateful for their offer, but I cannot
accept it. I--"
"You imagine I am one of the generous contributors? Be easy; I have
not offered you a cent. I am merely the bearer of the gift, or
rather the attempt at restitution. Your refusal will grieve them,
and add to the pangs of regret that very justly afflict them at
"I have some money which Doctor Grantlin collected for my Christmas
card. He retained only a portion of the amount, and sent me the
remainder. Mr. Singleton keeps it for me, and it is all that I need
"The purse contains also a ticket to New York, as it has been
supposed that you would desire to return there at once."
"Take all back, with my earnest thanks. I prefer to owe X--only the
remembrance of the great kindness which some few have shown me. The
officers here have been uniformly considerate and courteous to me;
Mr. and Mrs. Singleton will ever be very dear to me for numberless
kind deeds; and Sister Serena was a staff of strength during that
frightful black week of the trial."
She paused, and her voice betrayed something of the tumult at her
heart, as while a sudden wave of scarlet overflowed her cheeks, she
rose and held out both hands.
"Mr. Dunbar, if I have seemed unappreciative of your great exertions
in my behalf, it is merely because there are some matters which I
can never explain in this world. One thing I ask you to believe when
I am gone. I will never, so long as I live, cease to remember the
debt I owe you. I am and shall be inexpressibly grateful to you, and
whenever I think of my terrible sojourn here, be sure I shall recall
tenderly--oh! how tenderly! the two friends who trusted and believed
in my innocence, when all the world denounced me; the two who
generously clung to me when public opinion branded me as an outcast-
-you two--my best friends, you and Miss Gordon. It makes me proud
and happy to know in this hour of my vindication, that in her, and
in your good opinion, I needed none. Out of your united lives, let
me pass as a fleeting gray shadow."
"Out of my life you can never pass. Into it you have brought
disappointment, humiliation, and a keenness of suffering such as I
never imagined I was capable of enduring; and some recompense I will
have. You hope to plunge into the vortex of a great city, where you
can elude observation and obliterate all traces. Do not cherish the
ghost of such a delusion. Go where you may, but I give you fair
warning, you cannot escape me; and the day you meet that guilty
vagabond, you betray him to the scouts of justice."
He held her hands in a close, warm clasp, and a flush crossed his
brow, as he looked down into her quivering face where a smile which
he could not interpret, seemed only a challenge.
"Would a generous man, worthy of Miss Gordon, harass and persecute a
very unhappy and unfortunate woman, who asks at his hands only to be
forgotten completely, to be left in peace?"
"I lay no claim to generosity, and, where you are concerned, I am
supremely selfish. Miss Gordon has no need of your championship; she
is quite equal to redressing her own wrongs, when the necessity
presents itself. You are struggling to free your hands, so be it. I
have a close carriage at the gate, and to make assurance doubly
sure, I have come to take you to 'Elm Bluff'; to show you the face,
and ask you to identify it. Understand me, I will harass you with no
questions; nor will I intrude upon you there. I have ordered the
grounds cleared, have posted police to prevent the possibility of
any occurrence unpleasant to you; and all I ask is, that alone, you
will examine this witness, produced so strangely for your
justification. I shall wait for you in the rose garden, and if you
can come down from that gallery and tell me that the face is unknown
to you, that the man photographed in the act of stealing, is a
stranger, is not the man you love so well that you bore worse than
death to save him from punishment, then I will give up the quest;
and you may flee unwatched to the ends of the earth."
"Never again will I see that place which has blasted every hope that
life held for me."
"Not even to clear away aspersion from his beloved name?"
"I pray God, his beloved and sacred name may never be associated
with a crime so awful."
"You will not go to see the face? Remember, I shall ask you neither
yea nor nay. I shall need only to look once into your eyes, after
you have seen the Gorgon. Beryl, my white rose! Are you ashamed to
show me your idol's face?"
"I will never go to 'Elm Bluff'."
"It is no longer necessary. You know already the features printed
there, and your avoidance stamps them with infamy. How can your
lofty soul, your pure heart, tolerate a creature so craven, so
"We love not always whom we would, or should, were choice permitted
us; and to whom I have given my heart, my whole deep heart, you
shall never learn."
The mournful smile that lent such wistful loveliness to her flushed
face, seemed to him merely a renewed defiance.
"I bide my time, knowing it will surely come. You are free, but be
careful. Once when you lay upon the brink of the grave, unconscious,
I knelt at your side and took you in my arms; laid your head on my
heart, felt your cheek touch mine. Then and there I made a covenant
with my soul; and no other man's arms shall ever enfold you. Ah, my
Rosa Alba! I could dig your grave with my own hands, sooner than see
that thief claim you. I am a proud man, and you have dragged me
through the slough of humiliation, but to-day, as I bid you good-
bye, I realize how one felt, who looking at the bust of him she
loved supremely, said with her last breath: 'Voila mon univers, mon
espoir, et mes dieux!' How soon we meet again depends solely on your
future course. You know the conditions; and I promise you I will not
swerve one iota."
He took her hand, drew it across his cheek, laid it on his lips; and
a moment later walked away, with the faded flowers folded close in
Conveniently contiguous to the busy centre of a wide and populous
city, situated on the shore of one of those great inland fresh-water
seas, whose lake line girdles the primeval American upheaval, the
Laurentian rocks,--stands in the middle of a square, enclosed by a
stone coping and an iron railing, a stately pile of brick and
granite several stories high, flanked by wings that enclose in the
rear a spacious court. The facade was originally designed in the
trabeated style, and still retained its massive entrance, with
straight, grooved lintel over the door which was adorned by four
round columns; but subsequent additions reflected the fluctuations
of popular architectural taste, in the later arched windows, the
broad oriel with its carved corbel, and in the new eastern wing,
that had flowered into a Tudor tower with bulbous cupola. The strip
of velvet sward between the street and the house entrance, was
embossed with brilliant coleus set in the form of anchors; and a
raised border, running the entire length under the windows of the
basement, was ablaze with geraniums of various hues.
On a granite pediment above the portico, a large bronze anchor was
supported, and beneath it was cut, in projecting letters: "The
In front of the building ran a broad, paved boulevard; in the rear,
the enclosure was bounded by a stone wall, overgrown with ivy, and
built upon the verge of the blue lake, whose waves broke against the
base, and rolled away in the distance beyond the northern horizon.
Fully in accord with the liberal eclecticism that characterized its
exterior, was the wide-eyed, deep, tender-hearted charity which,
ignoring all denominational barriers, opened its doors in cordial
welcome to worthy, homeless women, whom misfortune had swept away
from family moorings, and whose clean hands and pure hearts sought
some avenue to honest work. The institution was a memorial erected
and endowed by a wealthy man, whose only child Umilta, just crossing
the threshold of womanhood, had been lost in a sudden storm on the
lake; whose fair, drowned face had been washed ashore just below the
stone wall, and whose statue stood, guarded by marble angels, in the
small chapel in the centre of the building, which was designed as an
enduring monument to commemorate her untimely fate, and perpetuate
Divided into various industrial departments, the "Anchorage" was
maintained almost entirely by the labor of its inmates; and it had
rarely been found necessary to draw from the reserve endowment fund,
that was gradually accumulating for future contingencies.
Trained nurses, trained housekeepers were furnished on demand; lace
curtains mended, laundered; dainty lingerie of every description,
from a baby's wardrobe to a bride's trousseau; ornamental needle-
work on all fabrics; artificial flowers, card engraving, artistic
designs for upholstering, menus, type-writing, all readily supplied
to customers; and certain confectionery put up in pretty boxes made
by the inmates, and bearing the "Anchor" stamp. A school of drawing,
etching, painting, and embroidery attracted many pupils; and a few
pensioners who had grown too infirm and dim-eyed for active work,
had a warm, bright room where they knitted stockings and underwear
of various kinds.
At one end of the long refectory was emblazoned on the wall: "For
whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in Heaven, the
same is my brother and sister and mother." At the other: "Bear ye
one another's burdens." The chapel contained no pulpit, but on a
marble altar stood a life-size figure of a woman clinging to the
cross: and on the walls hung paintings representing the Crucifixion,
the Descent, the Resurrection and the Mater Dolorosa; while in a
niche at the extremity, behind the altar, an Ecce Homo of carved
ivory was suspended above a gilt cross, and just beneath it
glittered the motto "Faith, Hope, Charity". Every morning and
evening the band of women gathered here, and recited the Apostles'
Creed, and the Lord's Prayer; but on Sabbath the members attended
the church best suited to their individual tenets.
The infirmary was a cheerful, airy room, and here professional
nurses were trained under the guidance of visiting physicians; and
in an adjoining kitchen were taught to prepare the articles of diet
usually belonging to the regimen of sick rooms.
Widows, maidens, Catholics, Protestants, admitted from the age of
eighteen to forty, these "Umilta Sisters" were received on probation
for eighteen months; then entered upon a term of five years, subject
to renewal at will; bound by specified rules, but no irrevocable
vow. Yielding implicit obedience to the matron, elected by
themselves every four years--subject to approval and ratification by
the Chapter of Trustees, they were recognized wherever they went by
the gray garb, the white aprons, and snowy mob caps peculiar to the
Fashionable women patronized and fondled the "Anchorage", for much
the same reason that led them to pamper their pugs; and since the
Chapter of Trustees consisted of men of wealth and prominence, their
wives, as magnates in le beau monde, set the seal of "style" upon
articles manufactured there, by ordering quilted satin afghans with
anchors of pansies embroidered in the centre, for their baby
carriages; painted tea gowns; favors for a "German", or fans and
bonbonnieres for birthday parties.
If children of the Brahmin caste of millionairdom were seized by the
Pariah ills of measles, or chicken-pox, or mumps, it was deemed
quite as imperatively the duty of doting parents to provide an
"Anchorage" nurse, as to secure an eminent physician, and the most
costly brand of condensed milk. In the name of sweet charity, gay
gauzy-winged butterflies of fashion harnessed themselves in ropes of
roses, and dragged the car of benevolence; as painted papillons drew
chariots of goddesses on ancient classic walls; so in the realm of
social economy the ubiquitous law of correlation of industrial
force--of conservation of energy--transmuted the arrested labor of
the rich and idle into the fostering heat that stimulated the
Scarcely a month previous to her unexpected release from prison,
Beryl had received a letter from Doctor Grantlin, enclosing one
addressed to "Sister Ruth, Matron of Anchorage". He wrote that his
daughter's health demanded some German baths; and on the eve of
sailing, he desired to secure for the prisoner a temporary refuge,
should the efforts which he had heard were made to obtain her
pardon, prove successful. As a nephew of the founder, and a cousin
of the young lady for whom the "Anchorage" was intended as a lasting
memorial, he had always been accorded certain privileges by the
trustees; and the letter, if presented to the matron, would insure
at least an entrance into the haven of rest, until the prisoner
could mature some plan for her future.
Spurred away from X--by the dread of another interview with the man
whom she had assiduously shunned, and of being required to visit
"Elm Bluff" and scrutinize the accusing picture, Beryl had shrouded
herself in her heavy mourning, and fled from the scene of her
suffering, on the 3 A.M. train Sunday morning; ten hours after
receiving the certificate of her discharge. Shrinking from
observation, she refused Mr. Singleton permission to accompany her
to the station house, and bade him good-bye three squares distant;
promising to write soon to his still absent wife, and assured by him
that a farewell letter of affectionate gratitude should be promptly
delivered to Dyce. Fortunately a stranger stood in the office and
sold her a ticket; and in the same corner, where twenty months
before she had knelt during the storm, she waited once more for the
sound of the train. How welcome to her the shuddering shriek that
tore its way through the dewy silence of the star-lit summer night,
and she hurried out, standing almost on the rails, in her impatience
Several travellers were grouped near a pile of luggage awaiting the
train, but as it rolled swiftly in and jarred itself to a
standstill, she saw even through her crape veil a well known figure,
leaning against an iron post that held an electric lamp. She sprang
up the steps leading to the platform, and took the first vacant
seat, which was in front of an open window.
The silvery radiance from the globe just opposite, streamed in, and
her heart seemed to cease beating as the tall form moved forward and
taking off his hat, stood at the side of the car. Neither spoke. But
when the brass bell rang its signal and the train trembled into
motion, a hand was thrust in, and dropped upon her lap a cluster of
exquisite white roses, with one scarlet passion flower glowing in
During the three days spent in New York, Beryl's wounds bled afresh,
and she felt even more desolate than while sheltered behind prison
walls. The six-storied tenement house where she had last seen her
mother's face, and kissed her in final farewell, had been demolished
to make room for a new furniture warehouse. Strange nurses in the
hospital could tell her nothing concerning the last hours of the
beloved dead; and the only spot in the wide western world that
seemed to belong to her, was a narrow strip of ground in a remote
corner of the great cemetery, where a green mound held its square
granite slab, bearing the words "Ellice Darrington Brentano."
With her face bowed upon that stone, the lonely woman had wept away
the long hours of an afternoon that decided her plan for the future.
Dr. Grantlin had gone abroad for an indefinite period, and no one
knew the contents of his last letter. In New York her movements
would be subject to the SURVEILLANCE she most desired to escape; but
in that distant city where the "Anchorage" was situated, she might
disappear, leaving no more trace than that of a stone dropped in
some stormy, surging sea.
To find Bertie and reclaim him, was the only goal of hope life held
for her, and to accomplish this, the first requisite was to
effectually lose herself.
Anxious and protracted deliberation finally resulted in an
advertisement, which she carried next morning to the "Herald"
office, to be inserted for six months in the personal column, unless
"BERTIE, IF YOU WANT THE LOST BUTTON WE BOUGHT AT LUCCA, WHEN CAN
GIGINA HAND IT TO YOU IN ST. CATHERINE'S, CANADA?"
She wore her old blue bunting dress, and a faded blue veil when she
delivered the notice at the office of the newspaper, and paid in
advance the cost of its publication. Later in the same day, clad in
her mourning garments, she went down to the Grand Central Depot and
bought a railway ticket; and the night express bore her away on her
long journey westward.
It was on the fourth of July, her twenty-first birthday, that she
entered the reception room at the "Anchorage", and presented in
conjunction with Doctor Grantlin's letter, a copy of the newspaper
printed at X--, which contained an article descriptive of the
discovery of the picture on the glass door; and expressive of the
profound sympathy of the public for the prisoner so unjustly
punished by incarceration.
For twenty years a resident of the institution, over which she had
repeatedly presided, Sister Ruth was now a woman of fifty-five,
whose white hair shone beneath her cap border like a band of spun
silver, and whose yellowish, dim eyes seemed unnaturally large
behind their spectacles. Thin and wrinkled, her face was nobly
redeemed by a remarkably beautiful, patient mouth; and her angular,
wiry figure, by small feet and very slender hands, where the veins
rose like blue cords lacing ivory satin. Over the shoulders of her
gray flannel dress was worn the distinctive badge of her office, a
white mull handkerchief pleated surplice fashion into her girdle,
whence hung by a silver chain a set of tablets; and the folds of
mull were fastened at her throat by a silver anchor.
Having deliberately read letter and paper, she put the former in her
pocket, and returned the latter with a stately yet graceful
inclination of the head, that would have been creditable in Mdm.
"I have expected you for some weeks, an earlier letter from Doctor
Grantlin having prepared me for your arrival; but it appears you
have not been released from prison by the pardon he anticipated?"
"No, madam; the authorities who caused my arrest and imprisonment,
considered the discovery of the printed door a complete refutation
of the accusation against me, and ordered my release. I come here
not as a pardoned criminal, but as an unfortunate victim of
circumstantial evidence; acquitted of all suspicion by a
circumstance even stranger than those which seemed to condemn me. In
the darkest days of my desolation, Doctor Grantlin believed me
innocent, honored me with his confidence and friendship, soothed my
mother's dying hour; and he will rejoice to learn that acquittal
anticipated the mockery of a pardon. Only his generous encouragement
emboldened me to hope for a temporary shelter here."
"Then you have no desire to become a permanent resident?"
"At present, I shall be grateful if allowed to enjoy the privilege
of hiding my sore heart for a while from the gaze of a world that
has cruelly wronged me. I want to rest where wicked men and women do
not pollute the air, where I can try to forget the horrors of
convict life; and the rest I need is not idleness, it is labor of
some kind that will so fully employ my hands and brain, that when I
lie down at night my sad, aching heart and wounded soul can find
balm in sleep. Locked at night into a dark cell has made existence
for nearly eighteen months a mere hideous vigil, broken by fitful
nightmare. To see only pure faces, to listen to sweet feminine
voices that never knew the desecration of blasphemy, to exchange the
grim, fetid precincts of a penitentiary for a holy haven such as
this, is indeed a glimpse of paradise to a tortured spirit."
"Have you special reasons for wishing to shun observation?"
The dim eyes probed like some dull blade that tears the tissues.
"Yes, madam, special cause to want to be forgotten by the public,
who have stared me at times almost to frenzy."
"You are an orphan, I am told; with no living relatives in America."
"I am an orphan; and think I have no relative in the United States."
"In the very peculiar circumstances that surround and isolate you, I
should imagine you would esteem it a great privilege to cast your
lot here, and become one of the permanently located Sisters of the
'Anchorage'. Ours is a noble and consecrated mission."
"Knowing literally nothing of your institution, except that it is a
hive of industrious good women, offering a home and honest work to
homeless and innocent unfortunates, I could not pledge myself to a
life which might not prove suitable on closer acquaintance. Take me
in; give me employment that will prevent me from being a tax upon
your hospitality and mercifully shelter me from pitiless curiosity
"Even were our sympathies not enlisted in your behalf, Doctor
Grantlin's request would insure your admission, at least for a
season. Where is your luggage?"
"I have only a trunk, for which I have retained the railway check,
until I ascertained your willingness to receive me."
"Give it to me."
She crossed the room and pressed the knob of a bell on the opposite
wall. Almost simultaneously a door opened, and to a stout, middle-
aged woman who appeared on the threshold, the matron gave
instructions in an under tone.
Returning to the stranger, she resumed:
"I infer from the Doctor's letter, that you are a gifted person. In
what lines do your talents run?"
"Perhaps I should not lay claim to talent, but I am, by grace of
study, a good musician; and I draw and paint, at least with
facility. At one time I supported my mother and myself by singing in
a choir, but diphtheria closed that avenue of work. With the
restoration of health, I think I have recovered my voice. I am an
expert needle woman, and can embroider well, especially on fine
"Do you feel competent to teach a class in 'water color', in our Art
School? Our aquarelle Sister is threatened with amaurosis, and the
oculist prohibits all work at present."
"You can form an opinion of my qualifications by examining some
sketches which are in my trunk. I have furnished several designs for
the 'Society of Decorative Art', and have sold a number of painted
articles at the Woman's Exchange."
"Then I think you have only to step into a vacant niche, and supply
a need which was beginning to perplex us. During the latter part of
September, an International Scientific Congress will be held in this
city, and one of our patrons, Mr. Brompton, who expects to entertain
the distinguished foreign delegates, has given us an order for
dinner cards for eight courses, and each set for twenty-four covers.
As nearly as we can comprehend the design, his intention is to
represent the order of creation in fish, game, fruits and flowers;
and each card will illustrate some special era in geology and
zoology. The cream and ices set are expected to show the history of
Polar regions as far as known, and at the conclusion of the banquet,
each guest will be presented with a velvet smoking cap, to which
must be attached a card representing 'scientific soap-bubbles
pricked by the last scientists' junta'. Now while the 'Anchorage's'
cultured art standard claims to be as high as any, East, we should
scarcely venture to fill this order, had not two of the professors
in our University, promised to map out the order, and furnish some
dots in the way of engravings, which will aid the accomplishment of
the work; and we are particularly desirous of pleasing our patron,
from whom the 'Anchorage' expects a bequest. If you think you can
successfully undertake a portion of this order, given us by Mr.
Brompton, we shall make you doubly welcome."
"I think I may safely promise satisfactory work in the line you
designate; and at least, I shall be grateful for the privilege of
making the attempt."
"You are aware, I presume, that all inmates of the 'Anchorage' are
required to wear its regulation uniform."
"I shall be very glad to don it; hoping it may possess some spell to
exorcise memories of the last uniform I wore; the blue homespun of
"You must try to forget all that. The 'Anchorage' gates shut fast on
the former lives we led; here we dwell in a busy present, hoping to
secure a blessed future. Come with me to the cutting room, and be
measured for your flannel uniform; then one of the Sisters will show
you to your own cell in this consecrated bee-hive, which you will
find as peaceful as its name implies."
The first story contained the reception rooms, chapel, schoolroom,
apartments for the display of sample articles manufactured; the
refectory, kitchen and laundry; and one low wide room with glass on
three sides, where orchids and carnations, the floral specialties of
the institution, were grown. On the second floor were various
workrooms, supplied with materials required for the particular
fabric therein manufactured or ornamented; and cut off from
communication, was the east wing, used exclusively as an infirmary,
and provided with its separate kitchen and laundry. The third story
embraced the dormitory, a broad, lofty apartment divided by carved
scroll work and snowy curtains, into three sets of sleeves running
the entire length of the floor; separated by carpeted aisles, and
containing all the articles of furniture needed by each occupant. On
the ceiling directly over every bed, was inscribed in gilt letters,
some text from the Bible, exhorting to patience, diligence,
frugality, humility, gentleness, obedience, cheerfulness, honesty,
truthfulness and purity; and mid-way the central aisle, where a
chandelier swung, two steps led to a raised desk, whence at night
issued the voice of the reader, who made audible to all the
occupants the selected chapter in the Bible. At ten o'clock a bell
was rung by the Sister upon whom devolved the duty of acting as
night watch; then lights were extinguished save in the infirmary.
This common dormitory was reserved for Sisters who had spent at
least five years in the building; and to probationers were given
small rooms on the second story of the west wing.
The third story of the same wing fronted north, and served as a
studio where all designs were drawn and painted; and upon its walls
hung pictures in oil and water color, engravings, vignettes, and all
the artistic odds and ends given or lent by sympathetic patrons.
Each story was supplied with bath-rooms, and the entire work of the
various departments was performed by the appointed corps of inmates;
the Sisters of the wash tub, and of the broom brigade, being
selected for the work best adapted to their physical and
Visitors lingered longest in the great kitchen with its arched
recess where the range was fitted; where like organ pipes glittering
copper boilers rose, and burnished copper measures and buckets
glinted on the carved shelves running along one side. The adjoining
pastry room was tiled with stone, furnished with counters covered
with marble slabs, and with refrigerators built into the wall; and
here the white-capped, white-aproned priestesses of pots, pans and
pestles moved quietly to and fro, performing the labor upon which
depended in great degree the usefulness of artificers in all other
The refectory opened on a narrow terrace at the rear of the
building, which was sodded with turf and starred with pansies and
ox-eyed daisies, and on the wide, stone window sills sat boxes and
vases filled with maiden-hair ferns and oxalis, with heliotrope and
double white violets. Three lines of tables ran down this bright
pretty room, and in the centre rose a spiral stair to a cushioned
seat, where when "Grace" had been pronounced, the Reader for the day
made selections from such volumes of prose or poetry as were deemed
by the Matron elevating and purifying in influence; tonic for the
soul, stimulant for the brain, balm for the heart.
Close to the rear wall overhanging the lake, ran a treillage of
grape vines, and on the small grass sown plat of garden, belated
paeonies tossed up their brilliant balls, as play-things for the
wind that swept over the blue waves, breaking into a fringe of foam
beyond the stone enclosure.
Except at meals, and during the last half hour in the dormitory,
night and morning, no restriction of silence was imposed, and one
hour was set apart at noon for merely social intercourse, or any
individual scheme of labor. Busy, tranquil, cheerful, often merry,
they endeavored to eschew evil thoughts; and cultivated that rare
charity which makes each tolerant of the failings of the other,
which broadens a sympathy that can excuse individual differences of
opinion, and that consecrates the harmony of true home life.
The room assigned to Beryl was at the extremity of the second story,
just beneath the studio; and as the north end of the wings was built
at each corner into projections that were crowned with bell towers,
this apartment had a circular oriel window, swung like a basket from
the wall, and guarded by an iron balcony. Cool, quiet, restful as an
oratory seemed the nest; with its floor covered by matting diapered
in blue, its low, wide bedstead of curled maple, with snowy
Marseilles quilt, and crisply fluted pillow cases; its book shelves
hanging on the wall, surmounted by a copy in oil of Angelico's
Elizabeth of Hungary, with rapt face upraised as she lifted her
The lambrequins of blue canton flannel were bordered with trailing
convolvulus in pink cretonne, and the diaphanous folds of white
muslin curtains held in the centre an embroidered anchor which
dragged inward, as the breeze rushed in through open windows. An
arched recess in the wall, whence a door communicated with the
adjoining chamber, was concealed by a portiere of blue that matched
the lambrequins, and the alcove served as a miniature dressing-room,
where the brass faucet emptied into a marble basin.
In this apartment the imperial sway of dull maroons, sullen
Pompeiian reds, and sombre murky olives had never cast encroaching
shadows upon the dainty brightness of tender rose and blue, nor
toned down the silvery reflection of the great sea of waters that
flashed under the sunshine like some vast shifting mirror.
Travel-worn and very weary, Beryl sat down by the window and looked
out over the lake, that far as the eye could reach, lifted its
sparkling bosom to the cloudless dim blue of heaven, effacing the
sky line; dotted with sails like huge white butterflies, etched here
and there with spectral, shadowy ship masts, overflown by gray gulls
burnished into the likeness of Zophiels' pinions, as their wings
Driven by storms of adversity away from the busy world of her
earlier youth, leaving the wrack of hopes behind, she had drifted on
the chartless current of fate into this Umilta Sisterhood, this
latter day Beguinage; where, provided with work that would furnish
her daily bread, she could hide her proud head without a sense of
shame. Doctor Grantlin, in compliance with her request, would keep
the secret of her retreat; and surely here she might escape forever
the scrutiny and the dangerous magnetism of the man who had
irretrievably marred her fair, ambitious youth.
To-day, twenty-one, full statured in womanhood, prematurely scorched
and scarred in spirit by fierce ordeals, she saw the pale ghost of
her girlhood flitting away amid the ruins of the past; and knew that
instead of making the voyage of life under silken sails gilded with
the light, and fanned by the breath of love and happiness, she had
been swept under black skies before a howling hurricane, into an
unexpected port,--where, lashed to the deck with "torn strips of
hope", she had finally moored a strained, dismasted barque in the
"Anchorage", whence with swelling canvas and flying pennons no ships
ever went forth.
A rush of grateful tears filled her tired eyes, and soothed by the
consciousness of an inviolable security, her trembling lips moved in
a prayer of thankfulness to God, upon whom she had stayed her
tortured soul, grappling it to the blessed promise: "Lo, I am with
you always. I will never leave you nor forsake you."
"Why deny it, Leo? Let us at least be frankly realistic, and 'call a
spade a spade' when we set ourselves to dig ditches, draining the
stagnant pools of life. Each human being has a special goal toward
which he or she strains, with nineteen chances out of twenty against
reaching it in time; and if it be won, is it worth the race? With
some of us it is love, ambition, mundane prosperity; with others,
intellectual supremacy, moral perfection, exalted spirituality,
sublimated altruism; but after all, in the final analysis, it is
only hedonism! Each struggles with teeth and claws for that which
gives the largest promise of pleasure to body, mind, or soul, as the
individual happens to incline. To Sybarites the race is too short to
be fatiguing, and the goal is only an ambuscade for satiety and
ennui; to ascetics, the race course stretches to the borders of
futurity, but even for them one form of pleasure, spiritual
pleasure, lights up eternity. The thing we want, we want; not
because of its orthodoxy, or its excellency or beauty PER SE; we
want it because it gratifies some idiosyncratic craving of our
threefold natures. The good things of this world are very adroitly
and ingeniously labelled, but we rummage in the bonbonniere for a
certain marron glace, and if it be not there, all the caramels in
Venice, all the 'gluko' in Greece, all the rahatlicum in Turkey will
not appease us."
With her arms thrown back, and clasped around the satin cushion
crushed against her head and shoulders, Miss Cutting lay on a red
plush divan in her father's picture gallery at home; and the
swathing folds of a topaz-hued surah gown embroidered with scarlet
poppies half concealed the feet that beat a tattoo on the polished
"Then you have missed your marron glace?" answered Leo, turning from
the contemplation of a new picture which Mr. Cutting had recently
added to his collection.
"Of course. Do not all of us sooner or later? Where is yours? Safe
under lock and key, or hanging on some crag, ripening for the
confectioner; or filched by some stealthy white hand, devoured by
some eager lips that smile derisively at you while they nibble?"
From beneath drooping lids, Alma's oblique glance noted the result
of her Scipio Africanus' tactics.
"Alma, too intemperate and prolonged diet of sweets has ruined your
digestion; has rendered you an ethical dyspeptic. A surfeit of sugar
betrays itself in fermentation, and you have reached the stage of
"Ah, don't drift into homiletics! I see your marron grows hard by
the vineyard where sour grapes flourish. Leo, I am not so serenely
proud as you, but a trifle more honest, and I have cried for my
bonbon, never flouting its delicious flavor; hence, when I am
ordered back to boiled milk and oatmeal, I make no feint to disguise
my wry faces."
Alma's low, teasing laugh stung like some persistent buzzing insect,
and a slight flush tinged her companion's cheek as she replied:
"Why plunge to the opposite extreme? You will starve on that
porridge you are desperately preparing for yourself."
"What else remains? This world is a huge bazaar, a big church fair,
and like other eager-eyed children I promptly set my heart on the
great 'bisc' doll with its head turning coquettishly from side to
side, singing snatches from 'La Grande Duchcsse', and clad like
Sheba's queen! I stake all my pennies on a chance in the raffle,
which has a 'consolation prize' hidden away from vulgar gaze. By and
by the dice rattle, and over my head, quite out of my reach, is
borne the coveted beauty (owned now by a girl I know), bowing and
singing to the new owner, who exultantly exhibits her as she
departs; and into my outstretched arms falls something hideous
enough to play Medusa in a tableau, a rag baby with grinning
Senegambian lips, rayless owlish eyes, and a concave nose whose
nostrils suggest the Catacombs! Bitter rage and murderous fury
possess me, but I am much too wise to show my tempers at the fair;
so I hug my 'consolation prize', and get away as fast as possible
with my treasure, and once safe from observation, box, deride,
trample upon it, and toss it into the garret as suitable prey for
dust, cobwebs and mildew! After a time, the keenness of the
disappointment dulls, like all other human aches that do not kill,
and by degrees I think less vindictively of the despised substitute.
Finally comes a day, when all else failing to amuse me, I creep
sheepishly into the attic and pick up the rejected, and persuade
myself it is at least better than no doll at all, and forthwith
adorn it with rags of finery; but the echoes of 'La Grande Duchesse'
will always ring in my ears, and through the halo of tears I see
ever and anon the prize beauty that was withheld. The two-edged
sword in the diablerie of fate is, that we are ordained to fret
after 'bisc,' when stuffed rags have been meted out as our share of
Leo drew a chair near the divan and seated herself; looking steadily
into the velvety black eyes that instead of betraying hid, like a
domino, the soul of their owner.
"Alma, better cross empty arms forever over empty heart, than mock
your womanhood by acceptance of a 'consolation prize'."
"We all say that the day after the fair; but wait a few years as I
have done; and like all your sisters in the ranks of the
disappointed, you will ultimately crawl back to the attic and kiss
the thick lips, and try to persuade yourself the nose is not so
formidable, though certainly a trifle less classic than Antinous's!
We set out with our eyes fixed on Vega, blazing above, and flaunt
our banner--'tout ou rien!'--but when the campaign ends, Vega laughs
at us from the horizon, quitting our world; and we console ourselves
with a rushlight, and shelter it carefully from the wind with
another flag: 'Quand on n'a pas ce qu'on aime, il faut aimer ce
qu'on a!' Such is the worldly wisdom that comes with ripening years,
like the deep stain on the sunny side of a peach. Moreover, 'folding
empty arms,' is only melodrama metaphor, and 'empty hearts' are,
begging your pardon, only figments of romantic brains. Our hearts
aren't empty, more's the pity! They hold deep, deep, the image of
Vega, and the flare of the tallow eandle on the surface serves as
cross lights to dazzle the world, and help us to hide the reflection
of our star. I saw that metaphor in some novel, and recognize its
truth. Do you, my princess?"
"I will never so utterly degrade myself. I could neither lower my
standard, nor sacrifice my ideal," said Leo, with a touch of scorn
in her usually gentle voice.
"You prefer that your ideal should sacrifice you? One enjoys for a
season the wide expanse visible from that lofty emotional pinnacle;
but the atmosphere is too rarefied, and we gladly descend to the
warm, denser air of the plains of common sense selfishness. If it be
lowering your standard to become the wife of a bishop (the youngest
ever ordained in his State), clothed with the double distilled odors
of sanctity and popularity, then heaven help your standard, which
only heaven can fitly house."
"Since you persist in assuming that so flattering an offer has been
made me, I will set this subject at rest, by a final assurance that
even were your surmise correct, I could never under any imaginable
circumstances marry my cousin, Bishop Douglass. Although I trust and
reverence him beyond all other men, 'I love my cousin cousinly, no
more,' and he is too much absorbed by his holy office and its solemn
responsibilities, to waste thought on the frail, sweet, rosy garland
of any woman's love. Fret yourself no longer in casting matrimonial
horoscopes for me."
The flushed cheeks, and a certain icy curtness in Leo's tone, warned
her companion that she was rashly invading sacred precincts.
"Eight years ago I made the solemn asseveration that I would never
marry; and I ran as a raw recruit to swell the army of foolish
virgins who lost all the wedding splendors, the hypothetical 'cakes
and ale', for want of the oil of worldly wisdom. Now I am thirty-
three, and my lamp is filled to the brim, and the bridegroom is in
sight. Why not? Adverse weather, rain, rust and mildew spoiled my
beautiful golden harvest ten years ago, but aftermath is better than
bare stubble fields, and though you miss the song of the reapers,
you escape starvation. Deny it as we may, we are hopelessly given
over to fetichism, and each one of us ties around her stone image
some beguiling orthodox label. Leo, yours is pride, masquerading in
the dun garb of 'religious duty'. Mine is self-love, pure and
simple, the worldly weal of Alma Cutting; but nominally it is dubbed
'grateful requital of a life of devotion' in my lover! You grieve
over my heartlessness? That is the one compensation time brings,
when men and women have killed the best in our natures. Teeth ache
fiercely; then the nerve dies, and we have surcease from pain, and
find comfort in knowing that the darkening wreck can throb no more.
There was a time when the pangs of Prometheus seemed only pastime to
mine, but all things end; and now I get on as comfortably without a
heart, as the victims of vivisection--the frogs, and guinea pigs,
and rabbits--do without their brains."
"I do indeed grieve over the fatal step you contemplate; I grieve
over your unwomanliness in marrying a man whom you do not even
pretend to love; and some terrible penalty will avenge the outrage
against feminine nature. Some day your heart will stir in its cold
torpor, and then all Dante's visions of horror, will become your
realities, scuurging you down to despair."
"Because 'Farleigh Court' may lie dangerously close to 'Denzil
Place'? Be easy, Leo; the cold remains of my ossified affection will
lie in as decorous repose as the harmless ash heaps of some long
buried damosel of the era of Lars Porsenna, dug out of Vulci or
Chiusi. To make a safe and brilliant marriage is the acme of social
success. What else does the world to which I belong, offer me now?"
"There remains always, Alma, the alternative of listening to the
instinctive monitors God set to watch in every woman's nature; and
we have the precious and inalienable privilege of being true to
ourselves. Better mourn your 'bisc' than stoop to a lower
substitute. Be loyal to yourself, be true to your own heart."
"I know myself rather too intimately to offer a tribute of
admiration on the altar of ego; and I prefer to make the experiment
of trying to be true and loyal to some one else, with whose
imperfections I am not so well acquainted. When you meet your
adorable 'bisc' in society, with a wife hanging on his arm,--when as
pater familias he convoys his flock of small children who tread on
your toes at the chrysanthemum shows, what then? The world, my
world, is generously and munificently lax, and though the limits of
respectable endurance may be as hard to find as the 'fourth
dimension of space', or the authenticity of the 'Book of Jasher',
still for decency's sake we submit there are limits of decorum;
certain proprietorial domains upon which we may not openly poach;
and mcum et tuum though moribund, is not yet numbered with belief in
the 'grail'. Female emancipation is not quite complete even in
America, and noblesse oblige! our code still reads: 'Zeus has
unquestioned right to Io; but woe betide Io when she suns her heart
in the smiles that belong to Hera!' Some women find exhilaration in
the effort to excel, by flying closest to the flame without singeing
their satin wings; by executing a pirouette on the extremest ledge
of the abyss, yet escape toppling in; female Blondins skipping
across the tight rope of Platonic friendship, stretched above the
unmentionable. You are shocked?"
"Indeed, I am pained. I can scarcely recognize the Alma of old."
"Wait one moment, I have the floor. In the days when I wept for my--
shall I say 'bisc'? for impersonality is hedged about with safety,
and the consolation prize had not yet been invited to come back from
Coventry, a funny trifle set me to thinking seriously of my sin of
covetousness. One summer at a certain fashionable resort, let us
call it villeggiatura of the Lepidoptera, the amusement programme
had reached the last act, and people yawned for something new, when
'sweet charity' came to the rescue, and proposed an entertainment to
raise funds for enlarging an ecclesiastical 'Columbary' where aged,
unsightly and repentant doves might moult, and renew their plumage.
Musical, dramatic, poetic recitations, and tableaux vivants
constituted the method of collecting the money, and the selections
would have made Rabelais chuckle. We had the most flagitiously
erotic passages (rendered in costume) from opera and opera bouffe,
living reproductions of the tragic pose of Paolo and Francesca that
would hare inspired Cabanel anew; of 'Ginevra Da Siena,' of
'Vivien,'--a carnival of the carnal! where nurseries were robbed to
supply the mimic ballet, and where bald-headed clergyman, and white-
haired mothers in Israel clapped and encored. One fair forsaken
dame, whose indignant spouse was seeking a divorce, came to the
footlights in an artistic garment so decollete that a man sitting
behind me whispered to his friend: 'What pictures does she suggest
to you? "Phryne before the Judges"--or Long's "Thisbe?" She
languorously waved a floral fan of crimson carnations, and recited
with all of Siddons' grace and Rachel's fire selections from a book
of poems, that were so many dynamite bombs of vice smothered in
roses. Amid tumultuous applause, she gave as encore something that
contained a fragment of Feydeau, and its closing words woke up my
drowsy soul, like a clap of thunder: 'Ce que les poetes appellent
l'amour, et les moralistes l'adultere!' Leo, there is a moral
somnambulism more frightful than that which leads to midnight
promenades on the combs of roofs, and the borders of Goat Island; so
I wiped my tears away, and after that day, began to read the billet
doux and wear the flowers of my 'consolation prize'."
"You do not love him, and your marriage will degrade you in your own
estimation. Your bridal vows will be perjury, an insult to your God,
and a foul terrible wrong against the man who trusts your
truthfulness. According to our church, wedlock is a 'holy
ordinance'; and to me an unloving wife is unhallowed; is a blot on
her sex, only a few degrees removed from unmarried mothers. You know
the difference between friendship and love, and when you go to the
altar, and give the former in exchange for the latter, the base
counterfeit for the true gold, you are consciously and
"Thanks, for your clearness of diction, your perspicuity which
leaves no cobweb of misty doubt wherewith to drape my shivering
moral deformity! To 'see ourselves as others see us' is as
disappointing as the result of plunging one's hand into the 'grab-
bag', but at least it brings the stimulating tingle of a new
sensation. Suppose each knows perfectly well that as regards the
true gold, both are equally bankrupt? There is a queer moral fungus
called 'honesty among thieves', and we both know that we never sang
snatches from Offenbach to each other, through pink 'bisc' lips. He
loved quite desperately a mignonne of a blonde, with heavenly blue
eyes and cherubic yellow hair, who, not knowing his expectations
from a California uncle, jilted him for a rich Cuban. Look you, Leo,
because I cannot wear Kohinoor, must I disport myself without any
diamond necklace? Since he can never own 'La Peregrina,' must he
eschew pearl studs in his shield front? We distinctly understand
that we are not first prizes; but perhaps we may be something better
than total blanks in the lottery, even though we quite realize the
difference between love and friendship. Do you? Portia should know
every jot and tittle of the law, and all the subtle shades of
evidence, before she lifts her voice in court."
Alma pushed away her cushion, sat upright, and the slumbering fire
flashed up under her jet lashes.
"If I do, that knowledge which earlier or later comes to all women,
is certainly linked with the comforting consciousness that I can
trust myself to govern and protect myself, without being tied to a
watch-dog, whose baying would serve much the same purpose as that
picture in mosaic in the House of the Tragic Poet. I have a very
sincere affection for you, Alma, but the day on which you sell
yourself in a loveless marriage, will strain hard on the cable of
"Is it for this reason that you refuse to officiate as my
"Solely because I will neither witness nor participate in an act
which will give me great pain by lowering my estimate of your
Alma's long, supple, tapering fingers were outstretched, and taking
Leo's white dimpled hands, drew them caressingly to her face,
pressing a palm against each cheek.
"Your good opinion is so precious, I cannot afford to lose it. We
accept men's flattery and expect their compliments, because it is a
traditional homage that survives the chivalry that inspired it; but
we don't mistake chaff for wheat, and the purest, sweetest, noblest
and holiest friendship in life is that of a true, good woman. The
perfume is as different as the stale odor of a cigar, from the
breath of the honeysuckle that bleached all night under crystal dew,
floats in at your window like a message from heaven, I love you
dearly, my pretty Portia, hence I wince a trifle at your harsh
ascription of cave canem motives in my marriage. In the idyllic
Arthurian days, the 'Lily Maid of Astolot' made a touching picture,
weeping and dying for the man who rode away, marauding on kingly
preserves; but this is the era of wise, common sense 'Maud Mullers',
and she and the Judge, mating as best they can, lead peaceful lives
in a wholesome atmosphere, and cause no scandal by following
'affinities' across the lines of law; as some high in literature,
art, and society have done, trusting that the starred mantle of
genius would hide their moral leprosy. With all my faults, at least
I am honest; and when I bow my stiff neck under the yoke connubial,
I promise you I will keep step demurely and sedately. Do you
remember a sombre book we read while yachting, which contained this
brave confession of a woman, whose marriage made her historic? 'I
thought I had done with life. I knew I had now cause to be proud of
belonging to this man, and I was proud. At the same time I as little
feigned ardent love for him, as he demanded it from me.' Leo, you
and I represent different types. You are an eagle brooding in cold
eternal solitude upon the heights, rather than be wooed by valley
hawks; I am only a very tired wren, who missed a mate on my first
Valentine season, and seeing my plumage grows a rusty brown, I
accept the overtures of one similarly forlorn, and hope for serene
domesticity under the sheltering eaves of some quiet, cosey barn.
You are a nobler bird, no doubt; but trust me dear, I shall be the
Leo withdrew her hands, and pushed back her chair, widening the
space that divided them.
"You disappoint me keenly. I thought you too brave to crouch before
the jeers hurled at 'old maidenism'. Moral cowardice is the last
flaw I expected in one of your fibre."
"Wait till you are thirty-three, and stand as a target at Society's
archery meeting. Yesterday Celeste was pale with horror when she
showed me two white hairs pulled from my 'bangs', and added, 'Helas
races! and powdered hair no more the style!' My dear girl--
"'True love, of course, is scarcely in society,
Unless in fancy dress, and masked like one of us--'"
still I really am very proud of my six feet two inches prospective
conjugal yoke-fellow; proud of his martial bearing, his brilliant
reputation, 'proud of his pride'; and I think I shall grow very fond
of him, because in a mild way I think he cares for me'; and we can
make a little Indian Summer for each other before the frosts of
Winter fall upon us. What else can I do with my life? Think of it.
Papa will be married soon, and while I don't propose to tear my hair
and insult his bride, nobody can be expected to reach such altitudes
of self-abnegation as to want a step-mother. Poor papa, I am sure I
hope he may be very happy, but it is superhuman to elect to live
under the same roof, and smile benignantly on his bliss. Rivers,
too, has slipped under the matrimonial noose, and I am absolutely
thrown on my own resources for companionship. What does society
offer me? Haggard, weazen old witch, bedizened in a painted mask;
don't I know the yellow teeth and bleared eyes behind the paste-
board, and the sharp nails in the claws hidden under undressed kid?
Have not I gone around for years on her gaudy wheel, like that
patient, uncomplaining goat we saw stepping on the broad spokes of
the great wheel that churned the butter, and pressed the cheese in
that dairy, near Udine? The dizzying circle, where one must step,
step--keep time or be lost! In Winter, balls, receptions, luncheons,
teas, Germans, theatre parties, opera suppers; a rush for the first
glimpse of the last picture that emerges from the custom-house; for
a bouquet of the newest rose that took the prize at the London Show.
In season, coaching parties, tally ho! Then fox hunting minus the
fox, and later, boating and bathing and lawn tennis!--and--always--
everywhere heart-burnings, vapid formalities; beaux setting belles
at each other like terriers scrambling after a mouse; mothers lying
in wait, as wise cats watching to get their paws on the first-class
catch they know their pretty kittens cannot manage successfully. Oh!
Don't I know it all! I dare say my world is the very best possible
of its kind; and I am not cynical, but oh Lord! I am so deadly tired
of everything, and everybody."
"No wonder, unless you mercilessly calumniate it; but you have only
yourself to blame. You made social success your aim, fashionable
life your temple of worship, sham your only God. If you habitually
drink poppy juice, can you fail to be drowsy?"
"Oh bless you! I have been polytheistic as any other well-read pagan
of my day, and changed the heads and the labels of the fetiches on
my altar almost as often as my ball wardrobe. I aspired to 'culture'
in all the 'cults', and I improved diligently my opportunities. One
year the stylish craze was sesthetics, and I fought my way to the
front of the bedlamites raving about Sapphic types, 'Sibylla
Palmifera' and 'Astarte Syriaca'; and I wore miraculously limp,
draggled skirts, that tangled about my feet tight as the robes of
Burne Jones' 'Vivien.' Next season the star of ceramics and bric-a-
brac was in the ascendant, and I ran the gamut of Satsuma, Kyoto, de
la Robbia, Limoge and Gubbio; of niello, and millchori glass, of
Queen Anne brass and Japanese bronze; while my snuff boxes and my
'symphony in fans' graced all the loan exhibitions. Soon after, a
celebrated scientist from England who had bowled over all the pins
set up by his predecessors, lectured in our Bojotia; and fired with
zeal for truth, I swept aside all my costly idealistic rubbish into
a 'doomed pyramid of the vanities', and swore allegiance to the
Positive, the 'Knowable', whose priests handled hammers,
spectroscopes, electric batteries--and who set up for me a whole
Pantheon of science fetiches. I bought a microscope and peered into
tissues, pollen cells, diatoms, ditch ooze; and pitied my clever and
very talented grandmother who died ignorant of the family secrets
revealed by 'totemism', ignorant of 'parthenogenesis' which proved
so conclusively the truth of her own firm conviction, that the
faults she deplored in her son's children were all inherited
directly from her daughter-in-law, whom she detested; ignorant of
the fact that the sun which she regarded as a dazzling yellow fire
was by bolometric measures shown to be in reality of a restful, and
refreshing blue color. By the time I was fully convinced that
teleology was as dead as the Ptolemaic theory, and that 'wings were
not planned for flight, but that flight has produced wings', hence
that Haeckel's gospel of 'Dysteleology' or purposelessness in Nature
satisfactorily explained creation--a great wave of oriental
theosophy overflowed us; and a revival of Buddhism invited me to
seek Nirvana as the final beatitude, where--
"'We shall be
Part of the mighty universal whole,
And through all icons mix and mingle with the
Or to make matters clearer still:
"'Om, mani Padma, Om! the dewdrop slips
Into the shining sea!'"
Even a sponge can hold only so much, and I fell back--or shall I say
forward--in the path of progress to rest in the dimness of
agnosticism. Is it strange, Leo, that I am desperately tired; and
willing to plant my feet on the rock of matrimony, which will
neither dissolve nor slip away, and to which my vows will moor me
"If you had clung to your Bible, and prayed more, you would not have
wasted so signally the years that might have brought you enduring
happiness. Forgive me, Alma, but you have lived solely for self."
"Yet now, when I propose to live solely for somebody else, you shake
me off, and repudiate me? Selfish you think? I dare say I am, but
religion now-a-day winks at that, nay fosters it. Each church is an
octopus, and the members are laboriously striving to disprove the
Saviour's admonition: 'Ye cannot serve God and mammon.' I am no
worse than my ritualistic sisters whom I meet and gossip with, under
cover of the organ muttering, and sometimes I wonder if after all we
are any nearer the kingdom of heaven that Christ preached, than the
pagans whose customs we retain under evangelical names. 'They
sacrificed a white kid to the propitious divinities, and a black kid
to the unpropiticus.' Do not we likewise? The church or one of its
pensioners needs money; so instead of denying ourselves some secular
amusement, cutting short our chablis, terrapin, pate de foie gras,
gateau, Grec, Amontillado; wearing less sealskin and sables, buying
fewer pigeon-blood rubies, absolutely mortifying the flesh in order
to offer a contribution out of our pockets to God, how ingeniously
we devise schemes to extract the largest possible amount of purely
personal pleasure from the expenditure of the sum, we call our
contribution to charity? We build chapels, and feed orphans, and
clothe widows, and endow reformatories, and establish beds in
hospitals, how? By a devout, consecrating self-denial which
manifests itself in eating and drinking, in singing and dancing, at
kirmess, charity balls, amateur theatricals, garden parties; where
the cost of our XV. Siecle costume is quadruple the price of the
ticket that admits to our sacrifice of black and white kids in the
same sanctuary. We serve God with one hand, and we surely serve with
the other the Mammon of selfishness and vanity. We have Lenten
service, Lenten dietetics, Lenten costumes even; Lenten progressive
euchre, Lenten clubs; but where are the Lenten virtues, where the
genuine humility, charity, self-dedication of body and soul to true
"The church is a school. If pupils will not heed admonition, and
defy the efforts of instructors, is the institution responsible for
the failure in education? The eradication of selfishness is the
mission of the churches; and if we individually practised at home a
genuine self-denial for righteousness' sake, we should collectively
show the world fewer flaws for scoffing reprimand."
"The Shepherds are too timid to control their flocks. If they only
had the nerve to pick us up, turn our hearts inside out, show us the
black corners, and the ossifications, and call sin, sin, we should
begin to realize what despicable shams we are. Dr. Douglass, the
Bishop, is the only one I know who lays us on the dissecting table,
and who does not speak of 'human fallibility' when he means vice. He
told us one day that the Gospel required a line of demarcation
between the godly and the ungodly, between Christians and
unbelievers; but that it has become imaginary like the meridian and
the equator; and that he very much feared the strongest microscope
in the laboratories could not find where the boundary line ran
between the World, the Flesh and the Devil, and the Kingdom of God
in our souls. I am sorry a distant State called him to her Episcopal
chair, for his cold steel is needed among us. Now tell me, Leo, what
you intend to do with your life?"
"Spend it for God and my fellow creatures; and enjoy all the pure
happiness I can appropriate without wronging others. I have so many
privileges granted me, that I ought to accomplish some good in this
world, as a thank offering."
"Take care you don't make a fetich of Jerusalem missions, Chinese
tracts, and Sheltering Arms; and lose your dear, sweet personality
in a goody-goody machine bigot. Forgive me, dear old girl, but
sometimes I fear a shadow has fallen in your sunshine."
"Sooner or later they fall into every life, yet mine will pass away
I feel assured. 'Pain, suffering, failure are as needful as ballast
to a ship, without which it does not draw enough water, becomes a
plaything for the winds and waves, travels no certain road, and
easily overturns.' If the gloomiest pessimist of this century can
extract that comfort, what may I not hope for my future? I am going
to rebuild my house at X----and when it is completed, I shall expect
the privilege of returning the hospitality you have so kindly shown
me. I shall be very busy for at least two years, and I am glad to
know that Aunt Patty is beginning to manifest some interest in my
"Leo, may I ask something?"
"If you are quite sure you have the right to ask, and that I can
have no reason to decline answering."
"I can't bear that you should live and die without being a happy
wife. I don't want you to become a mere benevolent automaton set
aside for church work, and charities; getting solemn and thin, with
patient curves deepening around your mouth, and loneliness looking
"'Eyes, meek as gentle Mercy's at the throne of heaven.'"
"To be a happy wife is the dream of womanhood, and if the day should
ever dawn when God gives me that crown of joy, I shall wear it
gladly, proudly, and feel that this world has yielded me its richest
blessing; but, Alma, to-day I know no man whom I could marry with
the hope of that perfect union which alone sanctions and hallows
wedded love. I must be all the world to my husband; and he--next to
God--must be the universe to me. There is Gen'l Haughton coming up
the stairs, so I considerately efface myself. Good-bye till
As she glided away and disappeared behind the curtain leading into
the library, Alma looked after her, with very misty eyes, full of
"Brave, proud soul; deep, sorrowful heart. If she can't drown her
star, at least she will admit no lesser light. She will never swerve
one iota from her lofty standard, and some day, please God, she may
yet wear her coveted crown right royally. Governor Glenbeigh is
worthy even of her, but will his devotion win her at last?"
If it be true that the universal Law of Labor, physical or mental,
emanated from the Creator as a penal statute, for disobedience which
forfeited Eden, how merciful and how marvellous is the delicacy of
an adjustment, whereby all growth of body, mind and soul being
conditioned by work, humanity converts punishment into benediction;
escapes degeneration, attains development solely in accordance with
the provisions of the primeval curse, man's heritage of labor? Amid
the wreck of sacerdotal systems, the destruction of national gods,
the periodical tidal waves of scepticism, the gospel of work
maintains triumphantly its legions of evangels; its apostolic
succession direct from Adam; its myriad temples always alight with
altar fires, always vocal with the sublime hymn swelling from
millions of consecrated throats.
The one infallible tonic for weakened souls, the one supreme balm
for bruised hearts is the divinely distilled chrism of labor.
Absorbed in the round of duties that employed her hands and
thoughts, and necessitated dedication of every waking hour, Beryl
found more solace than she had dared to hope; and the artistic
fancies which she had supposed extinguished, spread their frail
gossamer wings and fluttered shyly into the serene sunshine that had
broken rpon her frozen life. The distinctively ornamental character
of many of the industrial pursuits at the "Anchorage", demanded
originality and variety of designs, and as this department had been
assigned to her, she entered with increasing zest the tempting field
of congenial employment; yet day by day, bending over her tasks, she
never lost sight of the chain that clanked at her wrist, that bound
her to a hideous past, to a murky, lowering and menacing future.
Weeks slipped away, months rolled on; Autumn overtook her. Winter
snows and sleet blanched the heavenly blue of the dimpling lake, and
no tidings reached her from the wanderer, for whom she prayed. The
advertisement had elicited no reply, and though it had long ceased
to appear, she daily searched the personal column of the "Herald",
with a vague expectation of some response. If her brother still
lived, was the world so wide, that she could never trace his erring
passage through it? Would no instinct of natural affection prompt
him to seek news of the mother who had idolized him? After a while
she must renew the quest, but for the present, safety demanded her
seclusion; and since only Doctor Grantlin knew the place of her
retreat, she felt secure from discovery.
One Spring day, when warm South winds had kissed open the spicy lips
of lilacs, and yellowed the terrace with crocus flakes, Beryl
dismissed her class of pupils in drawing and painting, and was
engaged in dusting the plaster casts, and arranging the palettes and
pencils left in disorder. The door opened, and a pretty, young
German Sister looked in.
"Sister Ruth have need of you to do some errands; and you must go on
the street; so you will get your bonnet and veil. Is it that you
will be there soon?"
"I will come at once, Sister Elsbeth."
For several days Sister Ruth had been confined to her room by
inflammatory rheumatism, and when Beryl entered, the invalid
presented the appearance of a mummy swathed in red flannel.
"I am sorry to disturb you, and equally sorry that I feel obliged to
exact a reluctant service, because I know you dislike to visit the
business part of the city, and there I must send you. This note from
Mrs. Vanderdonk will explain the nature of the business, which I can
intrust to no one except yourself; and you will see that the
commission admits of no delay. Here is your car fare. Go first to
No. 100 Lucre Avenue, talk fully with Mrs. Vanderdonk, and then ride
down to Jardon & Jackson's and get all the material you think will
be required. You will observe, she lays great stress on the
superfine quality of the plush. Order the bill delivered with the
goods; and if anything be required in your department, you had
better leave the list with Kling & Turner."
Three squares south of the "Anchorage" ran a line of street cars
which carried her away to the heart of the city; and at the
expiration of an hour and a half, Beryl had executed the commission,
and was walking homeward, watching for a car which would expedite
her return. Dreading identification, she went rarely into the great
thoroughfare; and now felt doubly shielded from observation by the
Quaker-shaped drab bonnet and veil that covered her white cap. As
she was passing the entrance of a dancing academy, a throng of boys
and girls poured out, filling the sidewalk, and creating a temporary
blockade, through which a gentleman laden with several packages,
elbowed his way. A moment later, Beryl's foot struck some obstacle,
and looking down she saw a large portfolio lying on the pavement. It
was a handsome morocco case, with the initials "G. McI.", stamped in
gilt upon the cover, which was tied with well-worn strings. She held
it up, looked around, even turned back, thinking that the owner
might have returned to search for it; but the gentleman who had
hurried through the crowd was no longer visible, and in the distance
she fancied she saw a similar figure cross the street, and spring
upon a car rolling in the opposite direction.
The human clot had dissolved, the juvenile assembly had drifted
away; and as no one appeared to claim the lost article, she
signalled to the driver of the car passing just then, entered and
took a seat in one corner. The only passengers were two nurses with
bands of little ones, seeking fresh air in a neighboring park; and
slipping the book under her veil, Beryl began to examine its
contents. A glance showed her that it belonged to some artist, and
was filled with sketches neatly numbered and dated; while between
the leaves lay specimens of ferns and lichens carefully pressed.
The studies were varied, and in all stages of advancement; here two
elk heads and a buffalo; there a gaunt coyote crouching in the
chaparral; a cluster of giant oaks; far off, a waving line of
mountain peaks; a canon with vultures sailing high above it; cow
boys, and a shoreless sea of prairie, with no shadows except those
cast by filmy clouds drifting against the sun. Slowly turning the
leaves, which showed everywhere a master's skilful hand, Beryl found
two sheets of paper tied together with a strand of silk; and between
them lay a fold of tissue paper, to preserve some delicate lines.
She untied the knot, and carefully lifted the tissue, looking at the
A faint, inarticulate cry escaped her, and she sank back an instant
in the corner of the seat; but the chatter of the nurses, and the
whimpering wail of one dissatisfied baby mercifully drowned the
sound. The car, the trees on the Street, the belfry of a church
seemed spinning in some witch's dance, and an icy wind swept over
and chilled her. She threw aside her veil, stooped, and her lips
What was there in the figure of a kneeling monk, to drive the blood
in cold waves to her throbbing heart? The sketch represented the
head and shoulders of a man, whose cowl had fallen back, exposing
the outlines and moulding of a face and throat absolutely flawless
in beauty, yet darkened by the reflection of some overpowering and
irremediable woe. The features were youthful as St. Sebastian's; the
expression that of one prematurely aged by severe and unremitting
mental conflict; but neither shaven crown, nor cowl availed to
disguise Bertie Brentano, and as his sister's eyes gazed at the
sketch, it wavered, swam, vanished in a mist of tears.
In one corner of the sheet a man's hand had written "Brother Luke",
August the 10th. Had relenting fate, or a merciful prayer-answering-
God placed in her hand the long sought clue? When Beryl recovered
from the shock of recognition, and looked around, she found the car
empty; and discovered that she had been carried several squares
beyond the street where she intended to get out and walk.
Carefully replacing the tissue paper and silk thread, she tied the
leathern straps of the portfolio, and left the car, holding the
sketches close to her heart as she hurried homeward. When she turned
a corner and caught sight of the bronze anchor over the door, she
involuntarily slackened her pace, and at the same moment a policeman
crossed the street, stood in front of her, and touched his cap. The
sight of his uniform thrilled her with a premonition of danger.
"Pardon me, Sister, but something has been lost on the street."
"A portfolio? I have found it."
"It is very valuable to the owner."
"I intend having it advertised in to-morrow's paper."
"The person to whom it belongs, wishes to leave the city; to-night,
hence his haste in trying to recover it."
"I picked it up in front of Heilwiggs' Dancing Academy. How did you
know who had found it?"
"The owner discovered he had dropped it, soon after he boarded a
car, where Captain Tunstall of our force happened to be, and he at
once telegraphed to all the stations to be on the look out. A boot-
black whose stand is near Heilwiggs', reported that he saw one of
the 'Gray Women' pick up something, and get on an upbound car. Our
station was telephoned to interview the 'Anchorage', so you see we
are prompt. I was just going over to ring the bell, and make
"Who lost the book?"
"A man named McIlvane, an Englishman I think, who is obliged to
hurry on to-night, in order to catch some New York steamer where his
passage is engaged."
"You are sure he is a foreigner?" asked Beryl, who was feverishly
revolving the possibility that the sketch belonged to some
detective, and was intended for identification of the picture on the
glass door at X----.
"You can't be sure of anything that is only lip deep, but that was
the account telephoned to us. There is a reward of twenty dollars if
the book is delivered by eight P.M.; after that time, ten dollars,
and directions left by which to forward it to London. He said it was
worthless to anybody else, but contained a lot of pictures he
"I do not want the reward, but before I surrender the portfolio, I
must see the owner."
"For reasons that concern only myself. He can come here, and claim
his property; or I will take it to him, and restore it, after he has
answered some questions. You are quite welcome to the reward, which
I am sure you merit because of your promptness and circumspection.
Will you notify him that he can obtain his book by calling at the
"Our instructions are, to deliver the book at Room 213, Hotel
Lucullus. It is now four o'clock."
"I will not surrender the book to you; but I will accompany you to
the hotel, and deliver it to the owner in your presence. Let us lose
"Very well. Sister, I'll keep a little behind, and jump on the first
red star car that passes down. Look out for me on the platform, and
I'll stop the car for you."
"Thank you," said Beryl, wondering whether the sanctity of her garb
exacted this mark of deference, or whether the instinctive chivalry
of American manhood prompted him to spare her the appearance of
Keeping her in sight, he loitered until they found themselves on the
same car, where the officer, apparently engrossed by his cigarette,
retained his stand on the rear platform. In front of the hotel two
omnibuses were discharging their human freight, and in the
confusion, Beryl and her escort passed unobserved into the building.
He motioned her into one of the reception rooms on the second floor,
and made his way to the office.
Drawing her quaint bonnet as far over her face as possible, and
straightening her veil, Beryl sat down on a sofa and tried to quiet
the beating of her pulses, the nervous tremor that shook her. She
had ventured shyly out of her covert, and like all other hunted
creatures, trembled at her own daring in making capture feasible.
Memory rendered her vaguely apprehensive; bitter experience
quickened her suspicions.
Was she running straight into some fatal trap, ingeniously baited
with her brother's portrait? Would the Sheriff in X----, would Mr.
Dunbar himself, recognize her in her gray disguise? She walked to a
mirror set in the wall, and stared at her own image, put up one hand
and pushed out of sight every ring of hair that showed beneath the
white cap frill; then reassured, resumed her seat. How long the
Somebody's pet Skye terrier, blanketed with scarlet satin
embroidered with a monogram in gilt, had defied the bienseance of
fashionable canine and feline etiquette, by flying at somebody's
sedate, snowy Maltese cat, whose collar of silver bells jangled out
of tune, as the combatants rolled on the velvet carpet, swept like a
cyclone through the reception room, fled up the corridor. Two pretty
children, gay as paroquets, in their cardinal plush cloaks, ran to
the piano and began a furious tattoo, while their nurse gossiped
with the bell boy.
With her hands locked around the portfolio, Beryl sat watching the
door; and at last the policeman appeared at the threshold, where he
paused an instant, then vanished.
A gentleman apparently forty years of age came in, and approached
her. He was short in stature, florid, slightly bald; wore mutton
chop whiskers, and a traveling suit of gray tweed broadly checked.
Beryl rose, the stranger bowed.
"Ah, you have my sketch book! Madam, I am eternally your debtor.
Intrinsically worthless, perhaps; yet there are reasons which make
it inestimably valuable to me."
"I picked it up from the pavement, and though I opened and examined
it, you will find the contents intact. Will you look through it?"
"Oh! I dare say it is all right. No one cares for unfinished
sketches, and these are mere studies."
He untied the thongs, turned over a dozen or more papers, then
closed the lid, and put his hand in his pocket.
"I offered a reward to--"
"I wish no fee, sir; but the policeman has taken some trouble in the
matter, and without his aid I should probably not have been able to
restore it. Pay him what you promised, or may deem proper; and then
permit me to ask for some information, which I think you can give
She beckoned to the officer who looked in just then; and when the
money had been counted into his hand, the latter lifted his cap.
"Sister, shall I see you safe on the car?"
"Thank you, no. I can find my way home. I teach drawing at the
'Anchorage', and desire to ask a few questions of this gentleman,
who I am sure is an artist."
When the policeman had left them, Beryl took the portfolio and
opened it, while the owner watched her curiously, striving to
penetrate the silver gray folds of her veil.
"May I ask whether you expect to leave America immediately?"
"I expect to sail on the steamer for Liverpool next Saturday."
"Have you relatives in this country?"
"None. I am merely a tourist, seeking glimpses of the best of this
vast continent of yours."
"Did you make these sketches?"
"I did, from time to time; in fact, mine has been a sketching tour,
and this book is one of several I have filled in America."
With trembling fingers she untied the silk, lifted the sketch, and
said in a voice which, despite her efforts, quivered:
"I hope, sir, you will not consider me unwarrantably inquisitive, if
I ask, where did you see this face?"
"Ah! My monk of the mountains? That is 'Brother Luke'; looks like
one of Il Frate's wonderful heads, does he not? I saw him--let me
see? Egad! Just exactly where it was, that is the rub! It was far
west, beyond Assiniboia; somewhere in Alberta I am sure."
"Was it on British soil, or in the United States?"
"Certainly in British territory; and on one of the excursions I made
from Calgary. I think it was while hunting in the mountains between
Alberta and British Columbia. Let me see the sketch. Yes--10th of
August; I was in that region until 1st of September."
Beryl drew a deep breath of intense relief, as she reflected that
foreign territory might bar pursuit; and leaning forward, she asked
"Have you any objection to telling me the circumstances under which
you saw him; the situation in which you found him?"
"None whatever; but may I ask if you know him? Is my sketch so good
"It is wonderfully like one I knew years ago; and of whom I desire
to receive tidings. My friend is a handsome man about twenty-four
years of age."
"I was camping out with a hunting party, and one day while they were
away gunning, I went to sketch a bit of fir wood clinging to the
side of a rocky gorge. The day was hot, and I sat down to rest in
the shadow of a stone ledge, that jutted over the cove where a
spring bubbled from the crag, and made a ribbon of water. Here is
the place, on this sheet. Over there, are the fir trees. Very soon I
heard a rich voice chanting a solemn strain from Palestrinas'
Miserere; the very music I had listened to in the Sistine Chapel, a
few months before; and peeping from my sheltered nook, I saw a man
clad in monkish garb stoop to drink from the spring. He sat a while,
with his arms clasped around his knees, and his profile was so
perfect I seized my pencil and drew the outlines; but before I
completed it, he suddenly fell upon his knees, and the intense
anguish, remorse, contrition--what not--so changed the countenance,
that while he prayed, I made rapidly a new sketch. Then the most
extraordinary thing happened. He rose, and turning fully toward me,
I saw that one-half of his face was nobly regular, classically
perfect; while the other side was hideously distorted, deformed.
Absolutely he was 'Hyperion and Satyr' combined--with one set of
features between them. I suppose my astonishment caused me to utter
some exclamation, for he glanced up the cliff, saw me, turned and
fled. I shouted and ran, but could not overtake him, and when I
reached the open space, I saw a figure speeding away on a white
mustang pony, and knew from the fluttering of the black skirts that
it was the same man. My sketch shows the right side of his face, the
other was drawn down almost beyond the lineaments of humanity. Beg
pardon, madam, but would you be so good as to tell me whether this
freak of nature was congenital, or the result of some frightful
Beryl had shut her eyes, and her lips were compressed to stifle the
moan that struggled in her throat. When she spoke, the stranger
detected a change in her voice.
"The person whose countenance was recalled by your sketch, was
afflicted by no physical blemish, when last I saw him."
"His appearance was so singular, that I made sundry inquiries about
him, but only one person seemed ever to have encountered him; and
that was a half-breed Indian driver, belonging to our party. He told
me, 'Brother Luke' belonged to a band of monks living somewhere